Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Randy's Most Memorable Sports Moments: #1

The most memorable sports moment of my life is memorable not only for the event itself, but also for what it represents. It represents the epic struggle of young vs. old, good vs. bad, brother vs. brother.

The event transpired during the winter of my junior year of high school, when I was 16 and Derek was 9. We had recently started played a lot of ping pong against each other and we were both becoming very good. Daily, we played each other on my parent’s 1930’s ping pong table in our crowded basement.

Since Derek has been able to walk the two of us have been competing. Especially in those early years we competed against one another all the time from computer games to one-on-one football. We made up games, we adjusted rules to even things out, and we both took it seriously. Both of us had school friends that we hung out with but the majority of our after-school hours were spent with each other, usually in competition.

Up through this particular day you could count the number of times Derek had beaten me at anything on one hand. We would adjust rules to make games fairer and I would usually let Derek stay close but in the end I would always beat him. Something was different about Derek on this day, though. He was playing out of his mind and was as focused as I’ve ever seen him.

Early in the game I noticed Derek was on fire and when he went up by about 3 right away I realized I had to focus hard to keep him from pulling away. I reeled him in a little to make it something like 10-11 but then he burned me on his serve and went up 15-10. I knew it was going to be tough to catch up with how he was playing so I concentrated with all I had and point by point started climbing back in it. Neither of us wanted to lose: Derek because victory over me was so rare and so sweet, and me because I couldn’t stand to jeopardize my 200-0 record over Derek in ping pong.

I battled back to a 19-19 tie on his serve and I was confident I had won the match because Derek was exceedingly frustrated at my comeback and I was playing lights-out. But then Derek played an amazing point and took a 20-19 lead, just one point away from winning. NO! This made me extremely nervous because one slip and it was all over. I couldn’t give him a really good serve because if I messed up I would lose, so I played a good but safe serve and Derek had the return of his life. He slammed the ball on my backhand side right at the back of the table. I had very little time to think but in that instant I remember realizing how awful it was going to be to lose to him and how I couldn’t believe he had just hit that shot to beat me.

As my undefeated streak flashed before my eyes I instinctively threw my arm toward the speeding ping pong ball and to my amazement I made contact. Not only did I make contact but the ball was going in Derek’s general direction, unfortunately not onto the table. The ball took off very slowly (a blooper) in a trajectory heading 6-12” off the left side of the table. However, the super quick arm motion I needed to make contact had put a ton of side spin on the ball and Derek and I watched as it slowly curved back towards the table. We both stared with heightened interest as the ball made it all the way back towards the table and…tink…it hit the corner and bounced straight sideways. YES!!! What an amazingly lucky shot to save the point and the game. It of course demoralized Derek as he couldn’t believe I had tied it up after sure victory for him. I went on to win the game 23-21 and keep my undefeated streak going and keep Derek from winning at anything against me! Evil, big brother won again.

Honorable Mention:
Half Dome
Going to 2002 Stanley Cup Finals Series Clinching Game
Riverbank Runs
50 Mile Appalachian Trail Hike in 2003 (Story to come some day)
Beating #3 basketball team in the state in 1999
Hitting for the cycle in my 2006 softball playoff game


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